Nikon D3x Performance, Timings, and Image Quality

by Theano Nikitas Reads (81)

PERFORMANCE
Given the number of pixels this camera is pushing, its 5 frames per second continuous shooting speed is pretty good. If you choose DX crop mode (which drops the resolution to about 10 megapixels), the camera can achieve about 7 frames per second. Go to 14 bit RAW, however, and continuous shooting speed slows to a snail’s pace.

Shutter Lag (press-to-capture, pre-focused)

Camera Time (seconds)
Olympus E-30 0.02
Canon EOS 5D Mark II 0.02
Nikon D3x 0.02
Pentax K20D 0.04
Sony Alpha DSLR-A350 0.08

Continuous Shooting

Camera Frames Framerate
Olympus E-30 9 5.0 fps
Nikon D3x* 31 5.0 fps
Canon EOS 5D Mark II 3.8 fps
Pentax K20D 38 3.0 fps
Sony Alpha DSLR-A350 2.1 fps

Note: Continuous shooting framerates are based on the camera’s fastest full-resolution JPEG continuous shooting mode, using the fastest media type available (300x CF, SDHC, etc.), as tested in our studio. “Frames” notes the number of captures recorded per burst before the camera stops/slows to clear the buffer.

*The Nikon D3x produced a 5.0 fps rate at full-frame FX mode. In DX mode, we counted 48 frames at 7.3 fps.

Overall, however, the camera is highly responsive. Like the D3, the D3x utilizes Nikon’s excellent 51 point AF system and delivers topnotch autofocus performance. As expected, Live View – as mentioned above – has its own AF shortcomings.

Lens Performance
I tested the D3x with Nikon’s 24-70mm and 70-200mm lenses, with great results from both. The camera uses a Nikon F bayonet mount and is compatible with pretty much all lenses using that mount, with varying degrees of usability. Type G or D AF lenses support all functions and DX AF NIKKOR lenses can be used but will, of course, crop the image size. Other lenses may not support Color Matrix Metering II, autofocus, among other functions.

Image Quality
In a word, the D3x’s image quality is stunning. Images are sharp and detail capture, as one would hope (and expect) is amazing. Zoom into a tree trunk and you can almost see the layers of wood exposed where people carved their initials.

Nikon D3x

Colors are accurate and natural looking on default settings but there are so many parameter adjustments that it’s easy to compensate for any color shift. As always, Nikon’s matrix metering system produces well-exposed images and with the help of Active D-Lighting, the D3x exhibits a broad dynamic range. The only exception here might be the occasional clipped highlights. Even then, however, the camera can handle most any conditions it encounters.

Left to its own accord, the D3x doesn’t handle tungsten lighting very well, producing very warm images. But with so many custom white balance options, this really isn’t a problem.

Nikon D3x
Auto white balance, 3200k incandescent light

Exposure Modes
Nikon D3x
Neutral

D-Lighting
Nikon D3x
D-Lighting Normal

Nikon D3x
Vivid

Nikon D3x
D-Lighting Extra High

One major difference between the D3 and the D3x is light sensitivity. Nikon claims that the D3x is designed for use under conditions where the photographer controls the lighting and because of this, native ISO is limited to 100-1600 (versus the D3’s 200 to 6400). Both have expanded ISOs, however, and the D3x can be set to a low of ISO 50 and two high settings of 3200 and 6400.

Nikon D3x
ISO 100
Nikon D3x
ISO 100, 100% crop
Nikon D3x
ISO 200
Nikon D3x
ISO 200, 100% crop
Nikon D3x
ISO 320
Nikon D3x
ISO 320, 100% crop
Nikon D3x
ISO 400
Nikon D3x
ISO 400, 100% crop
Nikon D3x
ISO 500
Nikon D3x
ISO 500, 100% crop
Nikon D3x
ISO 640
Nikon D3x
ISO 640, 100% crop
Nikon D3x
ISO 800
Nikon D3x
ISO 800, 100% crop
Nikon D3x
ISO 1000
Nikon D3x
ISO 1000, 100% crop
Nikon D3x
ISO 1250
Nikon D3x
ISO 1250, 100% crop
Nikon D3x
ISO 1600
Nikon D3x
ISO 1600, 100% crop

While the D3 offers better results at higher ISOs, given the number of pixels crammed into its 24 megapixel CMOS sensor, the D3x’s noise performance is pretty impressive. (Check out our first shots from the Nikon D3s for the ultimate in high noise performance.)

Additional Sample Images

Nikon D3x Nikon D3x
Nikon D3x Nikon D3x
Nikon D3x Nikon D3x


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